What I’m Reading This Month: Reducing Brain Inflammation with Diet, Folic Acid and ASD Risk, and the Age of Plastic

September 2017

The sheer volume of health, wellness, and medical news and commentary available on the internet can be overwhelming. Every month, get a taste of what integrative medicine leader Dr. John Gannage finds interesting (and digestible) on the web.

1. Huge Diet Study Questions Conventional Wisdom About Carbs and Fats

The research has been pointing in this direction for a long time … that a high carb diet is worse than high saturated fat. Always, food quality matters. So does counting chemicals, not just calories. It also supports the notion that questioning “conventional” wisdom is a healthy practice. Especially when it comes to nutrition directives from those that a) know little about nutrition or the food supply or b) are conventionally supported by industry to promote a particular message while also occupying a position of influence. Hence, the welcomed, long overdue, and forthcoming revamp of Canada’s Food Guide, for example.

2. Folic Acid May Mitigate Autism Risk From Pesticides

Some good news. In Integrative Medicine positive studies come from nutrient therapy research, the bad news comes from studies on our toxic exposures. This study? Another example of “our best defense against the ill effects of toxins are nutrients”, as I Iike to say. And that our diets should be nutrient dense, not synthetic chemical dense. #NutrientsNotToxins #CountChemicalsNotJustCalories #ChooseOrganic

3. Devastating Flu Vaccine-Miscarriage Study Sparks Ridiculous Spin

In September 2014 I blogged about the insensibility of recommending flu shots routinely during pregnancy.

Read it here: http://integrative-medicine.ca/digging-deeper-on-expert-recommendations/

This was based on my concerns about safety and long term risk. Very recent research shows a massive increase in spontaneous abortion related to flu vaccination during pregnancy. A 7x increased risk of miscarriage is huge. Astounding. And I still maintain, if the shot can cause fetal death, which obviously is a horrible outcome, what might it do to the survivors of pregnancy, during their development years and into adult life?

4. The Plastic Inside Us

The best summary I’ve seen thus far on what it means to be living in the Plastic Age. I’m going to especially enjoy my sauna today.

“It is everywhere: the most enduring, insidious, and intimate product in the world.

From the soles of your shoes to the contact lenses in your eyes, the phone in your pocket to the food in your refrigerator, the evidence is unmistakable: We are living in The Plastic Age.

Plastic frees us, improving daily life in almost uncountable ways.

And plastic imprisons us in waste and microscopic pollution.

Plastic is all but indestructible, meaning plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade; rather, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, even down to particles in nanometer scale — one-one thousandth of one-one thousandth of a millimeter.

Studies show particles of that size can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to the lymph nodes and other bodily organs.

Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet. We generally assume the water bottle holding that pure spring water, the microwave-safe plastic bowl we prepare our meals in, or the styrofoam cup holding a hot drink is there protecting our food and drinks. Rather than acting as a completely inert barrier, these plastics are breaking down and leaching chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting plasticizers like BPA or phthalates, flame retardants, and even toxic heavy metals that are all absorbed into our diets and bodies.

This should knock us into our senses. We knew that this plastic is coming back to us through our food chain. Now we see it is coming back to us through our drinking water.

There are certain commons that connect us all to each other, air, water, soil, and what we have universally found time and time again is if you contaminate any of those commons, it gets in everything.

What does plastic in tap water mean for human health, how did it get there, and what can people do about it?”

5. What You Should Know About Kombucha Before You Drink It

Some patients have issues with fermented foods because of histamine intolerance. So I’m cautious when recommending. (See MIM’s blog for more info)

But it seems Kombucha can be problematic for other reasons, summarized well in this excellent post. Lead? Who knew?!

6. Study: Oral Supplementation with Liposomal Glutathione Elevates Body Stores of Glutathione & Markers of Immune Function

Last month at a medical conference where I was presenting about Children’s Mental Health, I surveyed the physicians in the audience about their knowledge of glutathione. The majority of them did not know what it was.

Glutathione is a critical anti-oxidant in human metabolism. It is crucial that glutathione levels in the body are adequate to combat oxidative stress and chemical exposures. It has been shown to be deficient in autism, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, AIDS and many other conditions. It protects mitochondria from damage. It is depleted by toxic metals, viruses, other synthetic chemicals, and requires nutrients like B6, B9 and B12 for its synthesis. Read more about glutathione HERE (originally posted April 2013)

I’ve been dispensing liposomal glutathione for 10 years, since the time I met Tim Guilford, a physician who manufactures a liposomal product, at an American College for the Advancement of Medicine conference in the U.S. Not all glutathione products are alike. Capsules are broken down in the digestive system and therefore will not boost body levels. Liposomal, however, is absorbed for use in the body.

A recent clinical trial using liposomal glutathione showed efficacy in raising reduced glutathione levels (GSH) along with natural killer cell function while also decreasing oxidative stress markers.

7. JAMA Editorial: Doctors Should Be Doing More To Help Patients Eat Better

At every visit, not 12% of them, doctors should discuss nutrition with their patients. That’s what good medicine looks like, regardless of medical specialty or patient demographic.

“There’s overwhelming and mounting evidence that nutrition plays a major role in the development of chronic diseases. Poor nutrition is a key contributor to most chronic diseases in the United States, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But nutrition is rarely being discussed by clinicians with their patients in clinical practice. Only 12 percent of visits include a discussion of nutrition.”

8. Study: B12 and the Microbiome

We know how important B12 is for overall health. Nerve function, energy production, glutathione synthesis, balanced brain neurochemistry all depend on it. Reference “normal” ranges from the lab do not reflect your personal optimal level. B12 therapy is valuable beyond dietary “allowances”. And as this study shows, if your B12 levels are “off”, look at reconstitution of your microbiome in a rich and diverse way. Gut bacteria, influenced by diet and other factors, produce B12. (And many other nutrients for that matter.)

9. The Mortality and Myocardial Effects of Antidepressants Are Moderated By Preexisting Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis

Death by antidepressants? A 33% increase risk of mortality from the use of antidepressants, including SSRIs, in the general population, is a massively significant finding. These are very widely used drugs. Some studies show they are no better than placebo. So, for the population at large, they’re not safe long term, and ineffective in many cases. Clearly we can do better when it comes to treating depression, which more definitively has been demonstrated to relate to brain inflammation. Treatment of depression must address oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and adrenal axis dysregulation, and consider epigenetics as well. Addressing neuroinflammation without addressing the gut is also fruitless.

10. 1 in 4 Girls Is Depressed At Age 14

Yesterday’s post pertained to research that shows a high mortality rate from the prescription of common antidepressants. As was commented, in teenagers the use of SSRI’s is associated with higher rates of suicide. Now we have this – 24% of 14 year old girls are depressed. What a conundrum, to say the least. To think that, in grade 9, a quarter of girls are suffering the ravages of being in a depressed state is staggering. And that the main tool for treating depression with modern medicine in this age group is fraught with risk. Statistics also show that 70% of adolescent and adult mental health problems have their onset during childhood. As with most conditions, the emphasis needs to be on primary prevention, identifying and addressing the root causes and getting to them early. That’s a large part of what Integrative Medicine is about. Secondly, once diagnosed there is a large role to play for addressing the lifestyle factors that contribute to mental health conditions such as depression, understanding also the complexity of psychosocial factors in each case. Needless to say, we have to do better. These are children.

11. How To Reduce Brain Inflammation With A Keto Diet

Continuing on this thread of brain disease and lifestyle factors, therapeutic diets can play a significant role. Brain inflammation is involved in autism, concussion, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression. The mechanism by which the ketogenic diet reduces brain inflammation, dramatically, has been elucidated. This validates those of us that have been advocating for a dietary approach to brain diseases as first line therapy, in an effort to target the inflammation. As the research shows, ketogenesis isn’t necessarily required. But markedly reduced carbohydrate and sugar, while increasing healthy fats in the diet, are. This lends support for not just the ketogenic diet, but the Modified Atkins Diet, the Mediterranean Diet and the Paleo Diet – each of which addresses the excessive carbohydrate issue with some variance. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the GAPS Diet do this to a degree also.

The point is: given that depression is rampant, drugs are risky and/or ineffective, and brain inflammation is a key factor, altering an individual’s and the population’s diet should be the starting point, with the potential for profoundly positive results. See how this ties into subsidizing healthy foods, taxing sugar (and artificial sweeteners), educating our youth and focusing on proper prenatal nutrition care? Throughout the life span correct dietary information is required, and getting serious about avoiding junk/processed food is an imperative. Our brains, while developing and beyond, depend on it.

Still hungry for information? Find previous month’s picks here.

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